Could it be that Metal Gear Solid 4 will be an actual video game? As opposed to a string of interesting but straightforward situations connecting overwrought plot events?
Why… yes. Uh, well, maybe. Kojima’s hoodwinked us before, but I’m seeing things in this video that Metal Gear has desperately needed for a very long time, and some things that look downright amazing.
The ability to influence the outcome of an open battle? Awesome. Sure, the FPS genre has been doing that sort of thing for ages, ever since DOOM, really — you could trick enemies into shooting each other, and in fact some areas were more or less impossible to clear without doing precisely that. Other shooters like Marathon, Half-Life and Halo have featured sections where the player is a third party outsider to a larger conflict. But if outcomes and alliances are really as fluid as this demo makes them seem, I for one am willing to allow my mind to be blown.
The bigger environments are a welcome addition, too. Again, after all that MGS2 tanker demo tomfoolery I’m reluctant to assume that this demo’s scenario is anything more than a single fancy setpiece intended to wow us before pulling the rug from beneath our feet. But if the whole game is like this, it’s going to be incredible. The gameplay in the MGS series lives and dies by the environment design, and the limited, constrictive corridors of the Big Shell were the biggest disappointment about MGS2 for me. Yeah, contrived story, too much dialogue, Rose was annoying, whatever; the game’s real failure was how little variety and freedom it offered.
MG3 took big strides to redeem the series with much more real situations and environments, but this bombed-out city is something else entirely. I’m sure the collapsible buildings are strictly scripted, but between the apparent fluidity of the AI skirmishes and the sheer immensity of the level design, MGS4 suddenly has me excited — no small feat after that horrible E3 trailer. I can honestly say I barely care about the series’ story anymore (I blame the Talking Hand of Destiny), but the gameplay looks stupendous.
I could live without the gimmicky SIXAXIS nonsense though. Here is a transcript of my video-watching experience:
Kojima: “The entire game can be controlled from a first-person perspective, so those of you who like FPSes should play like this…”
My brain: “YESSSSSSSS”
Kojima: “And it uses the SIXAXIS tilt function for control.”
My brain: “WHY GOD WHY”
Ah well, I guess it wouldn’t be a Kojima game without some sort of annoying gimmick that brings you out of the experience. I’ll hold out hope that this is as bad as it gets while bracing myself for worse. But really, what could be worse than the Raiden reacharound video? Nothing, that’s what.